Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing


COVID-19 Resources (To be continually provided)

          Excerpted below is a list that summarizes the communication barriers experienced by D/HH folks hospitalized with COVID-19:  

  • Patients can be too sick to keep their hearing equipment physically in place.
    • Being confined to respiratory isolation can break the normal flow of communication accommodations:
      • Respiratory isolation creates physical barriers
      • Masks will not be lowered so that you can lip read
      • Masks are being rationed, so doctors and nurses are limited when they can enter a room. This disrupts normal methods of using communication strategies such as video remote interpreting and even personal speech recognition apps.
  • Accommodations did not provide ideal communication. Significant communication barriers continued to limit medical conversations. This occurred despite much work by staff in a busy, but not overwhelmed environment. Healthcare workers naturally respond by communicating less information to increase efficiency. For patients, this makes it harder to make informed decisions.
  • You may be the first patient with severe hearing loss that your healthcare professional has ever had.
  • These communication problems are happening not only with the typical D/HH community (people who have CI or wear HA or use ASL), but even more so for many seniors with presbycusis, who are experiencing speech discrimination and are in isolation with only medical staff with a mask or someone behind a glass wall trying to communicate with them. 

April is Deaf History and Diversity Month

Deaf history month image  

Deaf History Month (link to web page on the history) National Deaf History Month, which begins on March 13th and runs through April 15th, is a celebration of contributions of the hard-of-hearing and the Deaf community to American society. It’s a great time to recognize deaf champions, and increase awareness of the deaf community’s rich history. 


For more information watch these fun videos: Deaf People Answer Commonly Googled Questions about Being Deaf or Deaf History Month with ASL Stew or ASL Storytelling (all videos are captioned, in ASL, or both).  

This month includes three key moments in American History for the Deaf community:

Each of these seminal events represents significant advancements for deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States. The establishment of the American School for the Deaf was the beginning of a long proud tradition of schools for the deaf in this country, which continues to this day. Preservation of these schools is of paramount importance to the community. Gallaudet University is a central icon within the community, representing the only university in the world that is solely for deaf and hard of hearing students. March 13 represents the day that the deaf community seized its fate during the Gallaudet University “Deaf President Now” movement when Gallaudet selected its first Deaf President. We declared that never again would we not be allowed to lead ourselves.

Diversity Month

Information shared by Disability Inclusion Network (DIN) a business resource group would like to invite you to participate in some virtual diversity month activities. While there are many ways to support and celebrate Diversity Month, we are going to highlight a few actives that you can do.

Netflix has a new documentary titled Crip Camp. The executive producers of the film Crip Camp include President Barack Obama and the First Lady Michelle Obama. The film highlights the civil rights moment of people with disabilities and how different communities came together in support of the revolution. To learn more about the documentary, click on the link Crip Camp Documentary

April 19 – April 26 is Days of Remembrance for the victims of the holocaust and survivors and will be commemorated on April 21, 2020. The annual 8 day period is designated by the United States Congress for civic commemorations and special educational programs that help citizens remember and draw lessons from the holocaust. To learn more visit the Seattle Holocaust Center for Humanity website and explore holocaust survivors stories.

On April 24th the Day of Silence will take place. Many take a vow of silence to bring awareness to bullying, harassment, discrimination, and the harmful effects it has on our LGBTQ+ community and especially to our LGBTQ+ youth. We encourage you to take a moment of silence and reflect on ways to support the LGBTQ+ community and end bullying, harassment and discrimination. Learn more about the Day of Silence movement.

April is also National Autism Awareness Month. We encourage you to celebrate, support, and bring awareness around Autism. You can learn more about Autism by visiting Autism Society. Also, learn about some famous people who are on the Autism Spectrum or suspected to be on the Autism Spectrum Famous People on the Autism Spectrum

DIN encourages you to embrace diversity and inclusion. Visit the following links and learn more about other cultures:

Lastly, do not forget about the little one; PBS is a great free educational resource for all ages. Visit PBS and join today

Click on the Calendar to go directly to ODHH's Calendar of Events Webpage.


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Blake West Building
4450 - 10th Ave
Lacey, WA

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Hearing Aid Consumers

Click on this flier for information on wireless technology and hearing aids.

Hearing Aid Resources

Universal symbol that identifies a looped venue.The Telecoil - Connecting Directly to Sound

A telecoil can make a dramatic difference in your ability to hear clearly and understand dialogue.


Washington Relay Captioned Telephone Service

Captioned Telephone (CapTel®) is a service that allows users to listen to their phone conversations while reading word-for-word captions of what’s said to them. Through the use of a uniquely designed CapTel phone, users speak directly to the other party while they listen and read what’s said on the bright, built-in display screen of the CapTel phone.

Click here to see the Washington Relay Captioned Telephone Service resource guide.   

Medicaid Coverage for Hearing Aids Starts January 1, 2019

Approved by the legislature last year, coverage of hearing aids for adults on Medicaid will begin January 1, 2019.  The coverage limited, as it only restores coverage that existed before 2011, but it will give eligible adults some hearing aid coverage, where they have none at present.  People with 45 db or more hearing loss in their better ears will be eligible for one hearing aid.  This will be bundled with the hearing evaluation, ear mold and three follow-up visits to the provider.  New hearing aids may be obtained every five years.  Two hearing aids may be approved under certain circumstances and requires prior approval.

Cochlear Implant replacement and repair will also be covered and new CIs may be covered with prior approval. Batteries for hearing aids and CIs are not covered.

The WA Health Care Authority (HCA) is still developing the regulations for this coverage but will operate under interim "emergency" regulations until the final rules have gone through the internal review, public comment and adoption processes.  HCA will have a comprehensive web site with information including Frequently Asked Questions.

Contact: Jean Gowen, PA-C, MPH
Clinical Program Manager - Hearing Hardware Program

Did you know?

Interesting Videos about Deaf Culture

Americans with Disabilities Act Resources

Overview of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Americans with Disabilities Act (National Association of the Deaf)

(ASL Videos): Review of disability discrimination laws in ASL, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

What is Effective Communication under the ADA?

ADA Requirements: Effective Communication (Dept. of Justice):

ADA National Network: Effective Communication:

Effective Communication: Health Care (Northwest ADA Center):

Health Care Providers (National Association of the Deaf):

Questions and Answers for Health Care Providers (National Association of the Deaf):

Employment Rights

Questions and Answers about Deafness and Hearing Impairments in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act (EEOC)

Discrimination and Reasonable Accommodations (National Association of the Deaf)

ADA Information, Technical Assistance, and Training

Northwest ADA Center: 
Provides information, training, and guidance on the Americans with Disabilities Act to Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.
To learn more about the Northwest ADA Center:
425-233-8913 (Videophone)

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Mental Health Resources

Hearing Loss Association of Washington (HLAA-WA)

HLAA-WA is affiliated with the national organization called Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA).  HLAA-WA has a website with information to learn more about the latest technologies available and how to deal with different communication strategies:

Hearing Loss Information

People with hearing loss who are oral and do not sign are often left out of the opportunity to socialize as their local community centers and senior centers are not “hearing friendly.” That is, they often lack the technology or fail to use even basic amplification of their programs where people who are hard of hearing might participate. There is one place where we know that people with hearing loss can be welcomed and know that their communication needs can be met. This would be a local HLAA chapter meeting.

If you are interested in starting a local HLAA chapter or hearing loss support group in your area please contact and share your ideas. We’d love to hear from you.

Interesting Reads of ASL and Deaf Culture

Interesting Resources of Inclusive Public Events and Meetings

  • Like the Mic: This is a video campaign launched by Rooted in Rights and the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) to bring awareness that life should be accessible to everyone, regardless of their ability to hear.
  • Closed Captioning: Information about the benefits and requirement of turning on closed captioning at public places.
  • New Seattle Law: Seattle will require closed captioning for TVs in bars, restaurants and stadiums.
  • Let's Loop Seattle: Advocacy to remove communication barriers and open doors to employment, public accommodations, state and local government services, transportation, and telecommunications.
  • Text to 911: Information about the status of Text-to-911 service across Washington State